Florida armed officer branded a coward by Donald Trump defends not entering school during shooting

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Veteran officer Scot Peterson (centre) has defended not entering the school during the shooting (AP)

The armed school officer who was branded a coward by Donald Trump has defended staying outside during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Scot Peterson did not go inside the school as the sound of gunfire could be heard from outside.

The veteran officer, who had been assigned to guard the school where 17 people were killed in the mass shooting, was branded unprofessional and cowardly by the President.

Donald Trump branded Mr Peterson a ‘coward’ (Rex)

But Mr Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, defended his client, saying the school resource officer did not enter because it sounded like the shooting was happening outside the building.

Mr DiRuzzo said it was ‘patently untrue’ that Mr Peterson was cowardly on the day of the shooting and followed his training by taking cover and initiating a lockdown.

His lawyer said in a statement: ‘Let there be no mistake, Mr Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the 17 victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need.

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‘However, the allegations that Mr Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.’

The statement comes after Trump insisted he would have run into the school if he had been there – even if he was not armed.

The President stepped up his attack on former Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Mr Peterson, telling state governors: ‘Look at Peterson. Look what he did in Broward where he thought he was probably a brave guy, but he wasn’t a brave guy under pressure.

The shooting at the Florida school resulted in the deaths of 17 people (Rex)
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder (Rex)

‘He choked and other people choked.’

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel suspended Mr Peterson without pay, saying that footage from the scene left him ‘sick to my stomach’.

But Mr DiRuzzo accused the sheriff of ‘at best, gross oversimplification’, saying he ‘jumped to a conclusion’ about his client’s behaviour.

Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder over the shooting.